The NCAA championship never disappoints! It is an exciting, brutal, unpredictable and humbling tournament. A huge congratulations to our guy Vito Arujau on winning his second NCAA title in spite of the adversity he faced all season long.  Also, big congrats to our guy Rocco Welsh on making the NCAA finals as a true freshman. As always, mindset makes the difference!



Here are 5 Mental Takeaways from the NCAAs:


  1. You HAVE to believe. There are many paths to success in wrestling but one is for certain. You have to believe that you are capable of winning in spite of any and all adversity that you’ve encountered throughout the season. Very few get out of the season undefeated and unscathed. Most will encounter losses, injuries and plenty of setbacks. The wrestlers who have a chance to win on Saturday night at the NCAA championships are the ones that believe that they will get their hand raised regardless of what happened earlier in the season. Carter Starocci suffered a knee injury just weeks before the Big 10 tournament. Vito Arujau lost twice to the same opponent (hats off to Ryan Crookham) and suffered several injuries. David Carr lost to Keegan O’Toole in the Big 12 finals. Their belief however was unwavering. I watched an interview with Caleb Henson and they asked a question which ended with “if he wins tomorrow night.” He corrected the interviewer with “when I win” not in an arrogant way but with confidence. Then you have guys like Rocco Welsh and Mitch Mesenbrink making the NCAA finals as freshmen. That only happens when you have a strong sense of belief. Before you can win, you have to believe you can win! And you have to maintain that belief once adversity strikes.


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  1. You have to have the ability to reset yourself during and after matches. While announcing, Anthony Robles talked about having to hit the reset button. In college, our coach Zeke Jones used to tell us “You have to win the match two or three times.” In other words, expect adversity, bad calls, blood time, long challenges, etc. Vito’s finals match was over 22 minutes with all the blood time and challenges. He had two or three questionable takedowns overturned. Without a doubt this is frustrating. Vito, however, was able to overcome it, stay focused and continue to score points. After Keegan O’Toole lost a heartbreaker to David Carr, he was able to reset himself and bounce back strong for the bronze. Wrestlers that are successful at the NCAA championship have the ability to hit their reset button during matches and after matches in order to get ready for the next moment or match.


  1. Faith played a pivotal role in the success of most of these athletes. During the pre-tournament interview with the top wrestlers nearly all of them finished their speech with the words “Praise God”. After many of their championship matches, they stated “Glory to God.” Aaron Brooks and David Carr were wearing the headband that said “100% Jesus.” I believe this helped these wrestlers have the ability to keep things in perspective in spite of the high-pressure environment and tournament. With the right perspective, winning and losing is not the end of the world. It allows the wrestlers to compete more freely without the fear of losing, making mistakes or looking bad. Keegan O’Toole and others talked about that their identify is not in their wrestling success which is fleeting, but in God and his Word which remains forever.


  1. It pays to have a high attack rate. Most of the NCAA champs and All-Americans have a higher attack rate than the others. They have the ability to get that takedown when they need one. You can’t simply turn that on without deliberate practice being aggressive and looking to score a lot of points. It won’t happen at the NCAA championships if you don’t put a premium on aggressiveness in practice, matches and particularly at the end of periods and late in matches. Vito is relentless, Mesenbrink is relentless, Parker Keckeisen and Aaron Brooks are relentless (any many others). The wrestlers having success are intelligently aggressive and have the ability to score when they need it.


  1. It doesn’t get any easier. Baschmania posted an interesting statistic that 19 All-Americans failed to All-American this season. The NCAA tournament is brutal for sure and past success certainly does not equal future success, even if you do everything right. One thing is for sure though; you cannot out train a bad mindset. Being a great wrestler has to be a given. You absolutely HAVE to perform at the NCAA tournament in order to win or do well. You may even need some of the breaks to go your way. Having a strong mindset, being resilient and having the ability to perform your best when it means the most is an incredible skill that needs to be honed in order to do well at this tournament.


Train your Mind like 2x NCAA Champ and World Champion Vito Arujau. Wrestling Mindset is the Official Mental Training Partner of USA Wrestling.

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